Virginia and the Nation Need the F-35 Program

As the home of eight presidents and the oldest legislature in the Western Hemisphere,
Virginia is famous for forging American democracy. With a proud military history dating backto George Washington and a current role as the home to 27 military bases, Virginia continues to play a leading part in defending our democracy in the 21st century.

Virginians today should be concerned about our country’s response to urgent challenges
to our national and economic security. By fully funding the military’s newest and most advanced stealth jet fighter, the F-35, Congress can ensure that the United States and its allies enjoy aircombat superiority for decades to come and help build a highly skilled workforce necessary to
support the high-tech aerospace jobs the F-35 program will bring to Virginia and 44 other states throughout the nation.

With 26 supplier locations throughout Virginia, the F-35 generates $56.9 million in direct and indirect economic impact to the state, supporting more than 800 jobs. Moreover, when the Navy decides to replace the older F-18 Hornets currently based at Naval Air Station Oceana, the F-35 will be their multirole fighter of choice. Naval Air Station Oceana directly employs 10,010 workers, while indirectly supporting another 15,275 jobs and generating nearly $2.5 billion in
economic activity.

Replacing our current fleet of aging multirole fighter jets with the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter will give our war fighters a platform capable of projecting air power and supporting our ground forces well into the 21st century. Using next-generation technologies, the F-35 will provide the US Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps with a family of interoperable stealth fighters capable of operating across the spectrum of air combat operations. The three F-35
variants provide combatant commanders with unforeseen versatility, allowing flight operations from conventional runways, aircraft carriers or austere locations.

Potential aggressors are hard at work developing their own next-generation fighter aircraft. The United States needs to expeditiously follow through with the F-35 program of record to meet the national security challenges of a changing world.

The stealthy design, advanced integrated sensor package and aerodynamic performance of the F-35 will yield combat effectiveness well beyond the capabilities of earlier generation fighters. The F-35 will greatly enhance the ability of combatant commanders to find and attack highly defended targets that are unreachable by today’s legacy multirole fighter force. At the same time, the reduced logistical support required for the F-35 will put fewer support assets at
risk and reduce our operating footprint in deployed locations.

The F-35 program is essential to maintaining American alliances and promoting American exports. Eight partner countries – the United Kingdom, Italy, Canada, Australia, the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway and Turkey – have invested over $4.5 billion in F-35 development and plan to buy 700 F-35 aircraft, with the UK alone preparing to purchase 138
aircraft. Thus, the F-35 program will contribute enormously to the competitiveness of the US aerospace industry – one of the few sectors in which the US economy enjoys a trade surplus.

In the midst of more than eight percent unemployment, the F-35 supports a broad industrial base, with more than 1,350 suppliers in 45 states, including Virginia. The F-35 program will contribute to more than 133,000 direct and indirect US jobs and more than $17.7 billion in economic activity in 2012.

From promoting national security and strengthening alliances to boosting the economy,the nation needs the F-35. Now, as throughout our history, Virginia can help the nation meet the military and economic challenges of our times.

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About Charles Burbage:
Charles T. Burbage is Executive Vice President of Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company and General Manager of F-35 Lightning II Program Integration. He is responsible for ensuring that all requirements are fulfilled for the program's United States and international customers as well as its industrial partners around the world. Mr. Burbage joined the then-Lockheed Corporation in 1980 in Business Development. Advancing through the corporate ranks, he was named President of the company's operations in Marietta, Ga. in 1999. and led the restructuring of that company prior to the Lockheed Martin Aeronautics consolidation in January 2000. Mr. Burbage has received numerous industry awards, including the inaugural U.S. Naval Academy/Harvard Business Review Award for Ethical Leadership in 2007; and many others.

10 Responses »

  1. Mr. Burbage, Will the new f-35 destroy my eardrums as the older f-18 hornets seem to be doing now. I live in Virginia Beach and I do not "heart" jet noise. I also wonder why we need the f-35 program when we seem to be fighting our wars now with the much more quiet drones over Pakistan and Yemen.

  2. Mr. Burbage, as the wife of an unemployed aerospace worker and an avid supporter of a strong and resilient military force, I applaud your article. My husband was with Grumman on the F-14 program for many years, as was his father and grandfather. Our family truly understands the importance of the F-35 program. Not only to our nation's defense, but as a crucial employment base for the pool of skilled aerospace workers in Virginia. The sound of fighter jets represents freedom, and the assurance that our children and grand children will be kept safe. It is truly music to our ears.

    Sandi, Hartfield

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  5. So. Mr. Burbage, What makes the f-35 more desirable than the drone technology being used in Afghanistan/Pakistan/ Yemen?

  6. Fran, I think you are making the leap a little too quickly.

    Sure, we're headed in an all unmanned direction, but we're not there yet. More in the transitional stage, and will probably be in this transitional stage for a few more decades. Again though, you're thinking is spot on. The JSF could very well be the last major product order we ever see for a manned strike fighter.

    Living in VA Beach and complaining about jet noise is similar to one buying an apartment in Times Square and complaining about the bright lights at night. It was there before you arrived. Oceana has been in this area since the late 40's and any jet noise comes with the territory. Many of my colleagues who did not choose to live here in VA Beach, but are deployed here, live in parts further out (Newport News/Yorktown areas) from Oceana. Something maybe to consider.

    • Mr Smith, Thank you for your comment. I appreciate it. Below is a video that I found interesting. I have lived in my home in Va. Beach for over thirty years. In that time the rules have changed. There was a time when the city spent money to move schools away from jet noise. Jets were never flown over the hospital on First Colonial Road. The new elementary school was built close by so that jet noise did not interfere with classes. Oceana Jet Base is a valuable asset here. My original question concerns the disconnect between Drone technology that is now being used in military and civilian operations. Why should taxpayers have to support another iteration of fighter jets when it seems they have already become obsolete?

      http://www.thenation.com/video/168007/jeremy-scahill-short-history-drone-warfare?rel=emailNation

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